Uber begins its London ban appeal after ten months of tweaks

Back in September, Transport for London (TfL) took the surprising step of revoking Uber’s right to operate in London. Ten months later, Uber is ready to fight the battle again and the appeals process begins today at Westminster Magistrates’ court.

You may have noticed that Uber has continued to operate in London in the intervening time. The reason for this is simple: Uber can continue as normal in the city until the appeals process is exhausted. We’ll be one step closer to the end of that appeals journey when the hearing wraps up at some point in the next few days.

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Can Uber win? It definitely could. Crucially, the appeal is not based on whether TfL was correct to revoke Uber’s licence back in September, but whether the company is a “fit and proper” operator today. Uber is – cosmetically at least – a very different company than what it was ten months ago. Gone is the steady flow of daily scandals and run-ins with the law, replaced with a series of improvements: free insurance coverage for European drivers; maternity and paternity payments; driver-hour limits; 24-hour phone support; and a move to proactively report incidents to the Metropolitan police in future.londons_uber_ban_shows_how_hard_it_is_for_governments_to_regulate_tech_-_3

Alongside this, Uber has been launching its own charm offensive to try and get members of the public onside. Channel 4 recently launched an online mini-documentary series showing the fun that could be had on Uber journeys sponsored by Uber, while there were reports that the company was in talks with The Evening Standard for positive news stories – something the paper denies.

Whatever happens in the next few days, though, Uber is unlikely to be going anywhere soon. The company is free to continue operating in the city until all appeal options are exhausted – and that could be all the way up to the Supreme Court. As London mayor Sadiq Khan said back in November, this is a process that could very well drag on for “a number of years”.

Of course, this is just one battle for Uber – even in the UK. The company also has to deal with the fallout of losing its operating licence in both Brighton and York.

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